Understanding Food Labels

Understanding Food Labels


Hi I’m Candy Cumming, a registered dietician
from Sharp Healthcare and today we’re gonna
look at food labels and try to make some sense
out of them. So the first thing you want to
look at on the label is serving size because
every single piece of information on that
label will relate back to the stated serving
size. Now sometimes there’s one serving
in a container and sometimes it’s multiple
servings in a container. Take for instance
this pot pie. This is one where you can really
be confused because most of us will eat the
whole pie but if you look at the label, it
says there are two servings in this particular
package. So, when you look at the calories
in here, and how many calories does a person
need in a day? You might think, well if I
want to weigh about 150 lbs of desired body
weight I need about ten calories per pound
of my desired body weight. So if I choose
to weigh, say 150, then I need about 1500
calories a day. So let’s look at this particular
piece of processed food here, and look at
how many calories are in a portion, but how
many would I eat if I ate the whole container.
So if I look here it’s 520 calories per
portion; two portions in this package; a 1,040
calories in this package. More than 2/3 of
the calories I need if I’m about a 150 lb
person. Whoa, that is like, totally overdoing
it for one piece of food! All right, one of
the other things we want to check for on the
label is the fiber content. And typically
we’re going to get fiber from fruits, vegetables,
whole grains and beans and one of the biggest
places we’re going to look from fiber is
from a breakfast cereal. And if we look at
the old American standard Corn Flakes and
you check the fiber content on that label
is one gram providing only four percent of
our fiber for a day. Not a big contributor.
On the other hand we can look for a higher
fiber cereal, Fiber One being one of the mother
loads of fiber. And here we could have nine
grams of fiber in the serving size, not one
gram, and get a third of the fiber we need
just from the cereal alone. One of the other
things you want to check for on the label
is the sugar that’s in the food. Now unfortunately,
the label doesn’t differentiate between
the sugar naturally found in the food and
sugar dumped into and added to the food. So
say for instance on milk, somebody might look
at this and say, “Oh my gosh, there’s
sugar in the milk,” but that the lactose.
That’s the sugar that belongs in the milk
and there’s 15 grams of lactose sugar in
this milk. No sugar has been added to the
milk. On the other hand, I can go and buy
yogurt that’s been sweetened and if I look
at the label, 27 grams of sugar, and the difference
between the 15 and the 27 is added sugar.
How do I know there is sugar added? We’re
going to look for words that end in –ose,
O S E: so that would be things like sucrose,
high fructose corn syrup and fructose. And
now, you know a lot more about how to use
a food label to your advantage.

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